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The View from the Cheap Seats

September 30, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

 

Yankees Have Unfinished Business

Summer officially ended for the Yankees and their fans on Sunday with the clinching of cheap_seats_3_owumthe American League Eastern Division. Despite a wonderful season that saw the opening of a beautiful new ballpark, record numbers of home runs, exciting, last-inning heroics that seemed to occur every night, two or three viable MVP and CY Young candidates as well as the best record in baseball, a playoff run that ends short of a World Series title will turn 2009 into a failure.

It’s the one downside to playing for the Bronx Bombers.  Yes, you enjoy the best that money can buy but at a price:  If you don’t win it all, the season is lost.  Just ask Manager Joe Girardi, whose status for next year is still undetermined despite this season’s success.  Or Alex Rodriguez, possibly the greatest player of his time, who has struggled mightily in the post season since joining the Bombers and has become a target of fans’ frustration because of it.

Former Mets GM Frank Cashen once said that the best team always wins the division but the playoffs are a crap shoot. While it’s true that the Yankees go into the post season with some big question marks, namely their starting rotation after C.C. Sabathia, they have markedly fewer problems than the rest of the AL’s contenders.  Now, if ARod can just get hot and A.J. Burnett can imagine that he’s pitching for a contract, maybe Joe Girardi can worry about his ring size instead of his resume.

New York Jets Might Not Be “Same Old”

Try as I might to resist, the Jets are starting to nudge me in the direction of optimism.  Not so much because of their perfect record but more for the attitude with which the defense is confounding veteran quarterbacks.  Attack, attack, attack is the modus operandi; one that couldn’t be more foreign to fans raised on the heartbreak of the Prevent Defense.  Apparently, the aggressive style is contagious, as evidenced by Mark Sanchez lowering his head and driving toward the end zone during his touchdown run on Sunday.  No sissy-boy slide for Rex Ryan’s QB.

Before I start booking a Super Bowl trip, however, I’d like to see some consistency in the running game.  Despite their 3-0 record, the Jets have only been productive on the ground in the second half of their opener in Houston.  With a rookie signal caller in Sanchez, they’ll have to establish their ground attack if they hope to keep opposing defenses out of his face as the season goes on.

Knicks Plan For Life Without LeBron James

Finally, the Knicks seem to be acknowledging that they must have an alternative plan in place should they come up empty next summer when players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh become free agents.  While it’s true that Donnie Walsh has done a great job in ridding the Knicks of the bad contracts that left the organization no room under the salary cap, that cap space alone does not guarantee that James or Wade will be wearing a New York uniform in 2010.

In signing David Lee to a one year deal for significantly more than Lee was entitled, Walsh established some good will with his young star going forward while maintaining wiggle room under the cap.  Besides, there’s this little business of playing the 82 games on this year’s schedule first; something not all that promising to begin with but entirely more watchable with a budding star like Lee on the squad.

MLB Disabled List Doesn’t Have To Mean All Is Lost

Is it reasonable to expect a Major League team to contend for a divisional title when   its two best players miss huge chunks of the season to injury; only to be followed to the disabled list by three of the five starters in the rotation?  Even if the team survives that initial wave of injuries, it couldn’t possibly stay in the race when a second wave of bad health removes two more power hitters from the middle of the lineup; one for the remainder of the season, could it?   Well, if you’re asking that question out at CitiField,  Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel would tell you the answer is a resounding, “No”.   But, in Minnesota, where the Twins head into Detroit this week for a four game series just two behind the Tigers in spite of all the aforementioned casualties, the answer is, “Why not?”

The Twinkies spent the first month of the season without Joe Mauer, a two time batting champ about to add a third title and an MVP award to his trophy case.  Think they might have been two games better over the first five weeks with him behind the plate?  Their projected ace, Francisco Liriano, has contributed nothing while serving three different stints on the DL,  they’ll finish the season without former MVP Justin Morneau, down with a bad back, just as they’ve muddled along trying to patch the huge hole left by starter Kevin Slowey; 10-3 before saying goodbye to ’09 with a broken wrist.  Hard to believe Minnesota wouldn’t have long since iced the division with these guys all in the lineup but, even without them, they still have a shot.  It’s a tribute to the excellence of the organization, from scouting to player development, and something for Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon to consider when evaluating the job done by Minaya.  It’s also why there should be an investigation if Ron Gardenhire isn’t named AL Manager of the Year.

Florida Gators Lose Tebow For No Good Reason

Bonehead call of the week goes to Urban Meyer, Head Coach of the top ranked Florida Gators.  With under eight minutes to go in the third quarter of Florida’s matchup with Kentucky on Saturday, the Gators scored to make it 31-7.  To that point, Tim Tebow, perhaps the game’s premier player, had been directing Meyer’s spread offense even though he was sick enough to require two bags of intravenous fluids before the game just to be able to play.  Yet, despite the big lead and his superstar’s illness, Meyer chose to leave Tebow in the game; a decision that bit him on the behind when Tebow suffered a concussion. 

Now, if Meyer thought that Kentucky would rally from 24 points down in 22 minutes against his Gator defense, he was the only one in the country.  But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  Say there was enough time for the Wildcats to come back.  This was a football game; not baseball.  If Kentucky made it close, Tebow could always return to the lineup.  Instead, Meyer flirted with one of  the few things that could derail his team’s run to its third title in four years.  Bonehead.

The View from the Cheap Seats

September 23, 2009 under Cheap Seats, MLB, NBA, NFL

By Eddie Mayrose


Giants Lost in the Shuffle

With the Jets off to a stunning 2-0 start, much of the sports discussion in New York cheap_seats_3_owumhas become different versions of, “Everything you always wanted to know about Rex but were afraid to ask.” Unfortunately, the media frenzy surrounding Gang Green’s unexpected success under its fiery, new Head Coach has pushed an even better story off of the back pages.

In the August 31st edition of Sports Illustrated, Giants’ GM Jerry Reese discussed how the team’s Wide Receiver position would be impacted by the loss of Plaxico Burress and the organization’s decision not to trade for an established veteran.  “We love developing our own guys and we feel like we have quality receivers to get the job done”,  he said at the time.  Reese looked very smart Sunday night as  Mario Manningham and Steve Smith each pulled in ten balls for over 100 yards and a touchdown in the Giants big win over Dallas.

The thing is, Reese’s quote was just a different take on similar statements he’s made regarding Head Coach Tom Coughlin, QB Eli Manning and an untested Offensive Line over the course of the last few years.  Under Reese, the Giants have established themselves as a consistently competitive team simply by sticking to their guns; making sound evaluations and then supporting them when things get tough.  So far, it’s produced four straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl.  So, enjoy the excitement of the Meadowlands’ other tenants.  The Giants actually prefer that you do.  But don’t lose sight of the fact that consistency beats occasional success every day of the week.

Jets’ Fast Start Fools Even Most Loyal Followers

Cheap Seater and Jets season ticket holder Lou Ricciardi, who would have opted to start Kellen Clemens over Mark Sanchez because of what he expected to be a disastrous start, chimed in this week on the euphoria sweeping Jets’ nation.  “I can’t believe how wrong I was but I hope they continue to prove me incorrect all year” said Ricciardi.   “I’ve had season tickets for twenty years and I’ve never heard the Meadowlands that loud.”

We’ve seen this kind of quick turnaround under a new head coach before.   In his first season, Herm Edwards won the AFC East only to oversee three ensuing flops while Eric Mangini was dubbed “Man-Genius” after his first year netted a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance.  It seems a little different with Ryan, though, if only because he’s recognized that the first thing that needs to be changed is the team’s attitude.  He’s imposed his attack mentality on his defensive charges and fired up the fans in the process.  That he rubbed one in the face of archrival Bill Bellichick is even better. But, after all of the phone calls to ticket holders and pregame speeches, this is still a team with a rookie QB that has struggled in December throughout its history.  If Ryan and Sanchez can finish the season the way they’ve started it, the Jets may finally have themselves a winner.

On The Joba Training

Now that Phil Hughes has firmly established himself as a reliable eighth inning reliever, the Yankees have no alternative but to use Joba Chamberlain as their fourth starter in the postseason.  With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to get Chamberlain some more work; as his latest outing in Seattle clearly indicates that the Joba Rules put in place to limit his innings are also limiting his effectiveness.

Shooting Guard

Apparently misunderstanding his coach’s instructions to “drive and shoot”, Cleveland Cavs’ guard DeLonte West was arrested last week for carrying two unlicensed handguns and a shotgun while riding his motorcycle.  After two years of passing the ball to LeBron James, seems like West finally decided it was his turn to take a shot.

Sore Loser

When Bill Bellichick offers his dead fish handshake to an opposing head coach after a game, he looks like a jerk.  But when he brushes off a rookie quarterback who goes out of his way to shake his hand, as Mark Sanchez did on Sunday, he deserves a smack.

Manuel Labor

A few weeks ago, I wrote in this space that it was impossible to hold manager Jerry Manuel accountable for the Mets’ terrible record because of the team’s extensive injury list.  However, after watching how his undermanned charges have begun to phone in the balance of the season, I’m wondering if Manuel has actually lost his squad.  Bad is one thing.  Apathetic is inexcusable.

Fans Enjoying Last Hurrah?

Lost in the euphoria of the Jets upset of New England in their home opener was the fact that many of the fans that made up the most raucous crowd I’ve ever heard at a Jets’ game will probably not be there next season because they can’t afford the Personal Seat Licensing fees. And, it may be a more difficult transition than they think, as local TV blackouts of home games loom if the Jets can’t fill those seats.

Out of Timeouts

Though it’s completely understandable that a coach would want to use a timeout to freeze the opposing kicker before a last second field goal attempt, someone needs to explain to me how it’s more effective when it’s called at the last possible second.  We see this nonsense every week; most recently on Sunday night in Dallas.   The kick goes through, the winners start to celebrate and the line judge comes running in to wave the whole thing off.  It’s something that the NFL needs to address before a player is injured on one of these non-plays.

Redskins Rookie Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot

Sunday night, after the Redskins stumbled through a 9-7 win over the hapless Rams in a game that left the hometown fans dissatisfied, Skins’ rookie line backer Robert Henson, listed by Washington as inactive for the first two games of the season, shared this little missive on his Twitter account. “All you fake half hearted Skins fan can .. I won’t go there but I dislike you very strongly, don’t come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!!” “The question is who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds.”

Ignore for a second the obvious flaw in his thinking that anyone working 9 to 5 at McDonald’s could even afford the absurd cost of a Redskins’ game ticket.  Focus instead on the ironic point that, after leaving  TCU without a degree and no real indication from the Skins that he has a future in the league, Henson may very well become the biggest employee at his own local McDonald’s.  That is, if the fast food giant deems him a qualified applicant.


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